A Community Academic Partnership to Prevent Obesity in Mexican-American Immigrant Families

Project Details


? DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Obesity is now the leading cause of preventable death in the US and has been strongly associated with 3 of the top 10 causes of death. Although weight gain is common following immigration, Mexican-Americans (the largest subgroup of Hispanic immigrants) have a disparate prevalence of overweight and obesity (78.8%), as compared to 66.7% for non-Hispanic Whites, and the risk of excess weight increases exponentially with the amount of time living in the US. Literature suggests the cardioprotective mechanisms often referred to as components of the Hispanic paradox largely disappear by the 2nd and 3rd generation of Mexican-Americans. Thus, the risk for obesogenic diseases such as cardiovascular disease (CVD) and Type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM) among the children and grandchildren of immigrants meets or exceeds that of US born non-Hispanics. The city of New Brunswick, NJ is home to both the flagship campus of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey (RU) and a growing population of Mexican immigrants. Following a period of unprecedented migration in the 2000s, it is currently estimated that 40-50% of the full-time residents of New Brunswick are immigrant families from the poorest Mexican states, especially Oaxaca. Rates of overweight and obesity among Mexican immigrants and their families in New Brunswick are high, often higher than the national average. Community residents, health care providers and academicians working in New Brunswick all agree that obesity and the escalating risk for CVD and T2DM are the biggest public health threats to the community in general and to Mexican immigrant families in particular. This proposal represents the efforts of Rutgers University Greater New Brunswick Community Health Collaborative and the Health Task Force of New Brunswick Tomorrow (NBT), a community coalition of over 30 individual and community members, to develop a comprehensive academic community partnership to reduce the excess risk of obesity among Mexican immigrants in New Brunswick. The proposal is informed by a syndemic perspective to the management of obesity, which acknowledges the interaction of various biopsychosocial factors and social conditions to impact community health concerns such as obesity. Accordingly, the proposal emphasizes a life course approach to obesity, since it has been demonstrated that the presence of adverse biological, psychological and social childhood events can increase the risk of obesity among children and adults. The proposal is informed by and builds on a history of successful academic- community collaborations in New Brunswick among underserved populations. Objectives of the proposal are: 1)To develop the knowledge and skills in CBPR methods of the scholars and community stakeholder groups through co-planning and convening a series of conferences and workshops that facilitate bi-directional learning of methods of mutual engagement through CBPR methods over a 3-year period; 2) To examine community-defined causes and correlates of obesity among Mexican-Americans and barriers to accessing preventive/health protective resources, including intra-personal, inter-personal, and contextual resources and incorporate community wisdom into study plans and intervention designs; and 3) to identify and implement community-defined priorities for preventive interventions that can address obesogenic factors unique to the target population. To achieve these objectives, a series of formal academic/community sessions, Community Advisory Board meetings, townhall style charlas, and skill building workshops are planned over the three year period, stressing the use of co-learning strategies, a Communities of Practice model and popular education approaches. The end result of this project will be the development and submission of an R03 application for a community partnered intervention to reduce obesity among Mexican immigrant families.
Effective start/end date9/7/155/31/19


  • Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development: $29,182.00
  • Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development: $29,511.00
  • Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development: $27,989.00


  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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